Paloma and I packed up full suitcase inside of an empty suitcase and navigated the 35 hour, 3 flight journey with relative ease. It was such a delight to have only one kid and nothing to do but focus on the transition. It’s so rare in everyday life that I’m not multitasking my ass off that this, by comparison, felt refreshing and very quiet. It occurred to me about 15 hours into the trip that there was no talking. Paloma and I still have the luxury of communicating energetically. With big kids around there is an ENDLESS stream of NOISE EVERYWHERE you go with them. “Dont do this, do that, no we can’t go there, I’m not sure why black is not in the rainbow, go pee before we go, please try to be kind to your brother, etc.”
(lesson #1 – no wonder I like to meditate – my life at home is LOUD)
It may have been too quiet though because rampant consumerism began. My adamant intention while in New Caledonia has been to minimize superfluous purchases and consciously re-purpose everything useful. But without the confines of an apron and minivan, I fell off the wagon and hit the ground running with my credit card. I’m not sure what happened but it started with two pairs of sunglasses from the Sunglasses Hut. Like, real sunglasses. I justified it with some excuse that i’m living in the south pacific, the sun is extra bright and my eyesight is worth it. But we all know I could have got some damn good polarized sunglasses at Costco for 1/4 of the price. Then I found my favorite lip pencil from Mac and tossed in some lip gloss too. When I signed the card slip I thought i must have bought 8 lip pencils. $74, are you kidding me? I tried on a fancy watch, but was starting to get a hold of myself. I told the woman I’d catch her on my return nine-hour layover and see if I had any money left. fortunately, Paloma demanded to be fed, so I paid for a small cup of fancy hot water and hid out in the ‘parents’ lounge (Auckland airport rocks) while breastfeeding and napping with my sweatpea.
(lesson #2 – the pull to spend money and buy crap is pretty strong out there in the world.)
While I was delighted to be in the land of the ENGLISH language, I could not help but notice the customer service deteriorating considerably the closer I got the US. What started with flight attendants carrying my baby, men folding and stowing my stroller, hot meals, free wine and an entire row of seats to myself ended with barely enough elbow room to cradle the baby, rude and uptight airport staff and an EMPTY food cart by the time it got to my row. NO FOOD – and I’m talking about the kind you have to BUY.
Starbucks was the first logo I saw as I stepped out of customs on US soil. I was reminded of a book I read in the late 90’s called No Logo, by Naomi Klein. So many of our brands are in the US are powerful and influential. I also couldn’t help but notice a lot of obesity. and a lot of gadgets. On our final leg, a red-eye from west to east, I paced the aisle while Paloma got some energy out crawling back and forth. I was looking for someone reading an old fashion, page turning book and did not find ONE. Lots of Kindles, ipads, laptops and a handful of magazines, but no books.
(lesson #3 – the US might be getting a little sloppy and impersonal)
At Dulles airport, Ty Quynn popped out from behind a pole and in true Quynn fashion, neither of us reacted in the slightest. Non chalance is a coveted trait in our lineage it seems. Anyone watching our grand reunion would be completely underwhelmed and disappointed by our lack of emotional displays. Rather, we shared a while-you-are-still-walking-around-the-neck-hug and kept moving forward. We fell right in sync with each other as my mom walked up and we all delightedly left the airport.
(lesson #4 – Nothing beats the comfort of family. Nothing)
I hit the ground running and never stopped until Paloma and I came full circle and returned to the airport with Pat & Ty two weeks later. We lived out of our car, slept at 5 different houses, saw tons and tons of incredible friends and family and tasted the good life of Frederick Maryland.
But I came to work and work I certainly did. And work I absolutely loved. Kicking off Sol Yoga Teacher Training for the 5th year offers more personal, professional and yogic insights than I can cram into one blog post, but suffice it to say that Sol Yoga is my other baby. Almost 10 years old now and as much as I refuse to believe it defines me, it must. I realized that just like I missed the physical presence of certain PEOPLE since I’ve been gone, I missed the entity of Sol Yoga. It has its own identity, personality and story. It’s run by my best friends and people who I have shared so much depth with over the years they are practically family. It has grown from a tiny little hobby to a full-fledged operation serving 2000 people a month, 4 locations and over 45 teachers and staff.
So I’m pleased that the studio has done well without me. But I was also reminded of how great it feels to ‘work’ and be involved in something professional. The satisfaction of accomplishment and the luxury of doing what I love is so addictive and invigorating. Jazzed and re-inspired by the challenge of running Sol Yoga remotely, I felt the desire to hire a full-time nanny so I can do more meaningful ‘work’ and fewer dishes. French women do it. Heck, Americans do it too. Work, work, work.
And then it occurred to me. (Lesson #5) The very thing that I’ve noticed living on a sliver of land in the south pacific is the pace of life and how people work to live, not live to work. How nice it is to have space in my calendar and open weekends to say YES to spontaneous events and carpe diem whenever possible. And yet, it took less that a week to get bitten by the bug of desire to have it all. To work. To raise a family. To live an adventurous life. And to do it all well.
And so, leaving my sweet little hometown was both hard and easy this time. The pull of my mini loves beckoning me back ‘home’ and the ass whopping I had to deliver to A for cutting Ivy’s hair off (ah-hem) was motivation plenty to get back on a plane (or 3) to New Caledonia.
Instead of shopping in duty-free this time, Paloma and I hopped on a bus into the city and spent our 8 hour layover exploring Auckland. Twelve years prior A and I had made the very same bus trip as we kicked off our around the world backpacking trip. But now, instead of a backpack I had a baby. And instead of feeling terrified and uncertain about traveling, I felt empowered, confident and adventurous. A decade does wonders.
(lesson #6 – going back can help you realize how you have gone forward)We arrived back in Noumea with 2 overfilled, extra heavy suitcases, wacked out circadian rhythms and a sense of relief that our family was together again. Paloma was a dream child as she always is, but I didn’t realize how uncomfortable she was on our trip, until we arrived ‘home.’ Her reaction to her brother and sister was sheer delight and joy and ease. Lots of smiles, arm flapping and baby communication. She loves her daddy too – so, so much.
Fortunately, I’ve been dropped hard back into full-time mothering as the kids have been on vacation this week. My confidence that I could do it all wore off in about 2 days and then I plummeted into a brief period of feeling utterly trapped on an island playing the supporting role to A’s dream life (as he flew off to Fiji) wondering ‘what the F*%$ have I done.’ If I could highlight brief period, I would. Once the jet lag wore off, the full moon passed and I recovered my tan, I remembered that I am right where I’m supposed to be at this time.
(lesson #7 – time flies. change happens. nothing really lasts very long)